Nissan Ariya review: first ride on a prototype of the new electric SUV

The Leaf was the world’s first practical mass-produced electric car back in 2010, and even by the time the second generation arrived in 2017, few major manufacturers were building anything like it.

As such, it seems strange that after the second generation Leaf, the Japanese brand has been fairly quiet on the electric front while competitors have raced ahead with a handful of models in recent years.

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Nissan doesn’t ignore electrification, but just doesn’t tackle it in the same way that other brands do, stating that it “dares to do what others don’t.” Make it what you want…

In line with its Ambition 2030 strategy, the brand is taking a two-pronged approach to electrification. this investment in a new EV battery plant in Sunderlanddevelops new all-electric models and researches solid-state batteries with the goal of bringing them to market by 2028. However, in the meantime, it continues to explore hybridization alongside all-electric options, with no announcement as to when it might come out. all-EV.

That’s why there are hybrid versions Qashqai as well as juke on the road, as well as the Ariya electric SUV and the Townstar electric van.

The Juke is a fairly standard full hybrid vehicle that delivers more power and lower emissions, while the Qashqai e-Power is a unique approach powered by an electric motor that gets its power from a gasoline engine/generator that is not connected to the wheels. . .

The Townstar (renamed Renault Kangoo) is the e-NV200’s replacement and offers a city-friendly van with a payload of 800kg and a range of up to 186 miles.

Then there’s the Ariya, Nissan’s first pure EV since the Leaf and the e-NV200, and it’s a very big deal indeed.

Built on the CMF platform that the electric Renault Megane E-Tech uses, the Ariya is a mid-size SUV, a cross between the Qashqai and the X-Trail, that promises refinement, high performance and a range of up to 310 miles.

Four versions will be offered at launch, starting with the 214bhp Advance all-wheel drive model. In addition, the Evolve retains a rear-wheel drive setup, but with a 239 hp engine. and an 87 kWh battery, this is the longest range model with an expected range of 310 miles. The E-4orce Evolve adds a second engine to the front axle with 302 horsepower. Standard E-4orce vehicles are expected to go 286 miles on a single charge, while no performance data has been released.

Prices start at £41,845 for the Advance and go up to £58,440 for the E-4orce Performance.

Nissan is a company credited with popularizing the crossover/SUV genre with the Qashqai, so its first appearance in the electric vehicle segment is significant.

Aria certainly looks the part. Nissan’s designers were aiming for futurism without overdoing it, and they struck that balance. It’s all about smooth shapes and a minimum of decorations, and the body follows in simple lines from the glossy black muffled radiator grille. It looked a little menacing in our test car’s black paint job, but the other lighter colors give it a more sophisticated look.

Like the exterior, the interior is minimalistic and futuristic. That means a very simple, low-slung instrument panel and center console with a few key controls tucked into the surface as sensory patches of material. This is an interesting middle ground between regular buttons and touch controls.

Less minimalist are the twin 12.3-inch screens – one for the instrumentation and one for the infotainment system – plus a large head-up display that offers additional information to the driver. Elsewhere, designers have taken inspiration from paper lanterns and traditional Japanese woodwork to create a tranquil interior ambience with softly illuminated panels.

The Ariya cabin offers impressive space thanks to platform flexibility. Without the transmission tunnel and sliding center console, it feels open and spacious, with impressive legroom in the back – albeit at the cost of a little fuel consumption compared to the front.

Our test drive was time-limited with a pre-production 63kWh entry-level model on the track, so offered a limited real-world estimate but gave an idea of ​​what buyers can expect when the car arrives in the UK early in the morning. summer.

Even the base car has decent power thanks to 214 hp. and 221 lb-ft and offers the instant linear progress that is the hallmark of electric vehicles. Finesse also seems good, although on a highway populated only by other electric vehicles, it’s hard to judge how well it can drown out normal road noise.

Similarly, initial impressions are that it rides very well, with a certain lean towards comfort, which means bumps are handled well, but cornering introduces noticeable body roll. To be sure, tests or real roads will be required, not the smooth asphalt of a race track.

Nissan says this all-wheel-drive variant will have a slightly more dynamic profile, offering more control in corners as well as when accelerating and braking.

What it won’t offer, like any version of the Ariya, is single-pedal driving. In an act of sheer madness, the function of the Leaf’s e-pedal has been downgraded so it no longer brings the car to a complete stop.

A full assessment of the Ariya will have to wait until we spend more time with the car on normal roads, but initial impressions are that with its combination of style, space and performance, Nissan could be another winner with its latest electric SUV.

Prototype Nissan Ariya 63 kWh Advance

Price: £41,845; Motor: One 160 kW synchronous motor; Battery: 63kWh; Power: 214 hp; Torque: 221 lb ft; Infection transmission: Single speed, rear wheel drive; Max Speed: 100 miles per hour; 0-62 mph: 7.5 seconds; WLTP range: 250 miles; Consumption: n/a; Charger: up to 130kW

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